BHUBANESWAR: While the State Government’s tall claim of procuring a record quantity of paddy has raised eyebrows, senior BJP leader and former MLA Pradip Purohit demanded a CBI probe into decentralised paddy procurement in Bargarh district.
Drawing attention of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to the alleged scam in paddy procurement in some of the Primary Agriculture Cooperative Sociewties (PACS) of Paikamal block in Padampur Assembly constituency of Bargarh, Purohit said nearly one lakh quintal paddy have been procured from farmers in a fraudulent manner.
In a letter to the Chief Minister, Purohit, who hails from Bargarh, considered to be the rice bowl of the State, alleged that several PACS of the district have procured Rabi paddy from farmers who have not cultivated it.
After receiving complaints from around 500 farmers of Palsda, Laudi Daha, Ubha and other panchayats, a team comprising Paikamal Tehsildar, supply inspector and local Regulated Market Committee (RMC) secretary conducted a joint inquiry and submitted a report to the district Collector. However, the Collector has been sitting over the inquiry report.
Alleging that hundreds of crores are being embezzled every year from sale of paddy by a well-entrenched nexus of millers, supply officials and local BJD leaders, the former legislator said he had raised the issue several times in the last Assembly session but the State Government preferred to ignore it as a share of the proceeds from these illicit transaction goes to the coffers of the ruling party.
Attaching a copy of the August 25 edition of The New Indian Express, which made an attempt to explain the murkier side of the paddy procurement business, Purohit said the report has also mentioned about the irregularities in Palsada PACS and pilferage of Government funds.
He further alleged that the owner of a rice mill at Padampur provided hospitality to BJD leaders during the last elections to Bijepur Assembly constituency where the Chief Minister was a candidate. The same mill owner is stated to have sold paddy through some PACS. Purohit said an independent inquiry will bring out the truth. “If BJD leaders are accepting the hospitality of the rice mill owner, what action can the district administration take against him?” he questioned.
Paddy procurement irregularities in Bargarh district is only a tip of the iceberg. Recycling of rice in the public distribution system is another big scam going on for years with active patronage of the State machinery. “Since the State Government machinery is fully involved in the procurement scam, I request you to hand over the case to CBI,” Purohit’s letter said.